The Western Bulldogs look cold in their blank canvas away strip. Lance Franklin in the latest Hawk away strip.
More white than gold: the Suns’ clash jumper.
Port Adelaide’s snowy clash jumper.
Fremantle’s away strip is almost devoid of link to the Dockers.
Hawthorn players (L-R) Stephen Gilham, Lance Franklin and Stuart Dew model the late noughties Hawk model.
The Hawks training jumper looks better than most of its clash designs.
Essendon went wide with its sash before it went grey.
Michael Hurley models Essendon new clash jumper.
The standard of some AFL games has never been higher, but some of the teams look like they have been put through the wash. The colour has been drained and white is the new black.
Clash strips are a constant thorn in the AFL’s side, but why have so many sides opted for white as their alternate strip? It’s the colour of innocence and purity, but is this what we want from our football sides?
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Across round 14, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs all wore predominantly white strips to avoid potential colour clashes. But a case could be made that all four teams could have worn their colours and no watchers would have been worse off.
Hawthorn’s brown and yellow are not colours that naturally fit together, but to see the Hawks wearing white with a tatty design on the front is surely a bigger fashion crime, especially against Carlton’s navy blue.
The Bulldogs’ predominantly royal blue could hardly be lost among Essendon’s red and black on Saturday night, yet they also opted to go with a mostly white jumper. Melbourne is a team desperate to stand for something right now, but wearing white with only a dash of red and blue makes it look more feeble than even its poor results.
There are other offenders. Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney had the chance to make a vibrant entry into the competition in recent years and went for red and orange as their respective home strips, but have still ended up white on the road. Somehow Port Adelaide’s striking black turned white against the Bulldogs earlier this season, while West Coast had the chance to wear blue and yellow against Brisbane’s maroon, yet also ended up wearing a far paler shade.
Some clash strips are necessary, and in cases white is justifiable. In the group stage of the European Championship, the only options Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic and Greece had were red, white or blue, the colours represented in the four countries’ flags.
But in today’s final, Spain looked regal in its red and blue with yellow piping, and played accordingly. Italy wore white shorts with their blue tops and socks, but still the Azzurri looked sharp.
Colours reflect the teams that wear them. The All Blacks have always been menacing, Tiger Woods was once famed for his aggressive play when he wore red on the final day of tournaments and Collingwood polarises opinion like its black and white stripes.
England’s soccer team once won a World Cup in a striking red and despite that strip being a favourite among success-starved fans, opted for all white in Euro 12. Success eluded the team again, although you can argue that has more to do with a hoodoo in penalty shootouts rather than the colours on the players’ backs.
Still, too many teams in the AFL lack imagination. The Lions are to be commended for their vivid guernseys, particularly when visiting Melbourne, when the Fitzroy jumper comes alive, albeit fleetingly. And Essendon has at least opted for a stylised grey in reluctantly finding a clash strip away from its red sash on black.
White belongs in some sports. Test matches and Wimbledon are steeped in tradition and wouldn’t look the same in colours.
But where football is concerned, it’s time for some teams to be bold. White’s not right.
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